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David Leo Fincher is a well-known American producer and director known for his innovative films. He has earned several honors, including the Golden Globe Award for best director. His films have earned high marks, with some of them ranking in the BBC's best 100 films of the twenty-first century. His involvement in the film industry began at a young age. Fincher's interest in filmmaking began at the age of eight when he received a Super 8 camera as a birthday present. Living next door to George Lucas, who directed American Graffiti (1973), and growing up in Marine County exposed him to the film industry. As a teenager, he was already working at Industrial Light & Magic as a cameraman. The dark atmospheric features depicted in Fincher’s movies lure viewers. The depth and craftsmanship applied in the filming process explain why his works have been subversive and popular. The following paragraphs, therefore, are the outline of what David Fincher does, his directing style, accomplishments and failures among other specifics that have led to his successful journey.
David Fincher was born 28th of August 1962 in Denver, Colorado and raised in San Anselmo, California. He was a neighbor to George Lucas, a filmmaker, to which complemented his interest in filming. In high school, he designed sets and directed plays. He took jobs as a production assistant in local media stations among other involvement in the theater to meet his needs and explore his interest. According to Lacey Nick, “Fincher worked on box office hits such as the Temple of Doom (1984), Return of Jedi, and other top films featured in the era.” David Fincher’s career developed progressively as he worked with various companies (Lacey 5). Working as a producer and as a cameraman in Korty Films, Industrial Light & Magic, and other productions, Fincher moved higher in the rank. By 1984, Fincher was directing a commercial for American Cancer Society. The film brought Fincher to light as its dramatic style, and creativity featuring a fetus smoking a cigarette marketed the skillful producer. Consequently, David Fincher got several opportunities as a director in various companies in Los Angeles. This also set a foundation for the establishment of his co-founded Propaganda Films.
Music Videos, Commercial and Films
One of Fincher’s most significant achievements in the 20th century was that he directed music videos. By Nev Pierce, “Fincher won Grammy Awards in 1994 for the music video titled Love Is Strong by Rolling Stones (Pierce 1).” He became a successful director of music videos such as pop singer Jermaine Stewarts’s songs. The iconic music videos were notably cinematic as they depicted deft camerawork and elaborate sets. Fincher is one of the most awarded directors in the music video shooting.
In 1992, Fincher produced the movie titled, Alien 3. Reports show that “the filming process of the movie cost over $65” (Lacey 8). The movie, however, did not sell as much as Fincher expected. The director was confronted with issues concerning the budget, script, and other negative factors. Alien 3 came with constant changes in the script that hampered the filming process. The resulting disputes painted the image of the film terming the whole process as a creative commercial disaster. Following the backseat, Fincher retreated to music video shooting. In 1995, the director prompted by the involvement of movie stars filmed Seven. As stated in Emily Smith’s handbook, “the movie attracted millions of views and over $316 million.” The thriller starred Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey among other top actors. Seven was a story surrounding the hunt down of serial killers whose murders were a reflection of the seven deadliest sins. Among the reasons for its good rating was the high visual of images, tense atmosphere and noir-styled filming. Subsequently, as portrayed by Justin Morrow, “Fincher’s works rose in popularity with movies such as The Game (1997) and Fight Club (1999) receiving mixed reviews while other critics were rating him as one of the best producers in the 1990s”.
The thriller titled Panic Room followed in production in 2002. The movie starred Jodie Foster as a single mother with a daughter who she protected from gangsters attacks. The filming process was quite tricky for Fincher as the cast worked in one location during the whole project. Panic Room brought returns of over $92 million. As outlined in Emily Smith’s handbook, “2007 came with the production of Zodiac which became among the top selling movies of the year” (Smith 11). Zodiac’s success acclaimed worldwide support. Accordingly, “Zodiac earned over $51 million although it struggled in the United States box office” (Morrow 1). Zodiac did not, however, win an Academy Award nomination. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button followed after that in 2008. The movie which is an adaptation of Fitzgerald’s short story received 13 nominations for Academy Awards. The film won the award for Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, and Best make up while Fincher got the nomination for Best Director. The storyline of the film was based on life and death with the leading actor, Pitt, featured reversal in aging. The featuring of beautiful music scores by Alexander Desplat heightened viewers’ anticipation of the film. Fincher’s films such as The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and other recent works have acclaimed several awards. The television series titled House of Cards which was directed and executively produced by Fincher in 2014 has received good ratings, critical acclaims. More so, the series led to Fincher’s winning of the Prime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for Drama Series. Fincher has also won Golden Globe nomination through directing the film Gone Girl. The director is a proud producer, and his latest works include Mindhunter for Netflix premiers.
David Fincher has applied his skill to several commercials. He is an iconic director of significant ads. Fincher uses his cameras, technology, and technique to bring out a robust visual sensibility on the businesses. His Propaganda Films paved the way for a continuation and ultimate success in Fincher’s career. The co-founded company eventually became a huge music video and commercial house in the 1980s. Fincher has led campaigns for Heineken and Siemens. He has conducted advertisements for companies such as Nike, Adidas, and other huge corporations. According to Smith Emily’s Research, “Fincher’s works with Xelibri Company earned him a DGA Award in 2013 in the category for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials” (Smith 1). He continues to film massive projects such as Gap which he is lately working on.
David Fincher’s Style
David Fincher’s filming style is highly rated. From the perfectly titled storylines, lighting, editing, choice of music and sound system, Fincher is a leading example of a stylish perfectionist. His proclivity to produce great visuals lures many viewers. The use of computer-generated imagery is highly featured in Fincher’s works. Sometimes it is hard to determine if any shot by Fincher is computerized or human controlled. He manipulates camera movements to his advantage while he takes several shots even if it is a minor take. According to Scott Beggs, “handheld cameras are not common in Fincher’s artwork as he prefers cameras on tripod” (Beggs 3). Camera movements are very limited as he attempts to eradicate any instance of shaky images and low-quality production. The director is uncompromising, and his works are rich in detail with cinematic fabric making repeated viewing fun. The technique applied by Fincher in his films can also be said to be unique. In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), a master technique of age reversal was used. Fincher was able to use film technology to convince his audiences that the character’s life journey was age reversible. In accordance with Lace Nick “over $150 million was used to shoot the movie to which it earned Fincher an Academy Award as the best director” (Lacey 5).
Fincher’s films mostly feature dark, thrilling, and edgy atmospheres. Zodiac, for instance, depicts gloomy urban settings, darkened color palette and a tense storyline that arouses paranoia. His subject matter surrounding murder and other edgy topics evoke discomfort in the viewers. These scary scenes have been received differently by various people. Fight Club welcomed both negative and positive reviews. Some people reacted that the story glorified violence and the fiery response brought up ill-reactions while others objected to the arguments claiming that the film was just but a dark comedy. Critics argued that the film it promoted anti-social behaviors and the information it spread was destructive (Smith 2). Panic Room, on the other hand, was a show of perfected cinematography which depicted explicit photography, sound design, and direction. As a result of the application of pre-visualization style by Fincher, the film was viewed as too mainstream.
David Fincher’s Personal Experience
Fincher is a perfectionist and a successful one in his career. Fans and filmmakers can learn a lot from his life journey. His success is attributed to his hard work, perseverance, and risk taking. Since 1995 after the release of Seven (1995), his career has seen a better face (Smith 1). Millions of views that the movie attracted and the extensive financial benefits expounded Fincher’s career. Consistency is an essential element observed by David Fincher. Fincher started working on his job at a tender age. His interest in filming developed when he was eight years old after he got a Super 8 camera for his birthday. The fact that his neighbor was a filmmaker and that he discovered his passion at a tender age contributed to the success of the director. His focus on his love while in high school and afterward shaped his life journey. This background of chasing after his ambitions and ceaselessly working on it is the reason why his career can be termed as a flourishing one. His use of edgy details and thrilling filming shows how uniqueness is a valuable commodity.
One of Fincher’s earliest works featuring a fetus smoking cigarette opened up opportunities for him in the industry. The commercial was so unique and infamous at the time that other producers and clients yearned to work with the creative director. Research shows that “Fincher’s ability to harness technology, manipulate color and master the use of cinematic qualities explains his highly rated commercials, films and music videos shootings” (Beggs 6). Working with other filmmakers and professionals in the industry, Fincher perfected his skill and made it a thriving one for that matter. Failures that came with filming did not deter him from fulfilling his ambitions. Alien 3 (1992) brought huge disappointment as the whole process was problematic for him. The frustrations led to his retreatment back to music videos not until Seven (1995) came to light. Emily Smith’s handbook outlines that “David Fincher is among the most celebrated artists in 1990s and early 2000s” (Smith 10). He is a prominent director and producer of music videos, films, and commercials. He has won several Academy Awards, Oscar nominations, and many other triumphs. The success of Seven (1995) brought his works to light countering all the failures he had gone through including the colossal set back caused by Alien 3.
David Fincher Today
David Fincher is the most innovative, meticulous and thorough directors in the filming industry. The director and producer of music videos, commercials, and films still work on expounding his career. He is appraised for his resilience and patience while taking movies as he doesn’t stop at any point until he gets the perfect shot. Reports show that “Mindhunter is a recently produced film that is directed by Fincher in partnership with Netflix” (Smith 18). The series is a dramatic story characterized by tension, dark and character-driven storyline. The camera works are articulate, moody, and of high visual quality. The protagonists of the story are driven by the urge to bring positive impact in the society which is filled with violence and murders. The film is lavishly taken and perfectly directed to bring out the smooth, uninterrupted scenery. Apart from Mindhunter, other works recently done by Fincher include House of Cards, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl. Fincher is renowned for his meticulous photo shoots and video shoots which targets precision. The entertainment industry seemingly is yet to see more of Fincher’s edgy films, appealing and perfect works.
As discussed in the paper, David Fincher is a successful director and producer of music videos, films, and commercials. His ability to lure his viewers towards his works is one of his greatest potentials. The director is appraised for his excellent mastery of the art, sound directing and top-rated productions. His films are conventional in nature and edgy yet at the same time smoothly crafted. Fincher’s discovery of his passion at a young age and perfection on this skill has led to the successful man seen in American Film industry.
Beggs Scott. Filmaking Tips From David Fincher. Film School Rejects. 2015. Retrieved from:
“Fincher, David." Current Biography Yearbook. 61 (2000).
Lacey, Nick. Seven: Director, David Fincher : Note. Harlow: Longman, 2001.
Morrow Justin. David Fincher’s Rocky Road to Success: The Triumph and Failures That Shaped Him. No Film School, 2017. Retrieved from:
Pierce Nev. David Fincher on Gone Girl: ‘Bad things Happen in this Movie’. The Guardian. 2014. Retrieved from:
Smith Emily. The David Fincher Handbook: Everything You Need to Know About David Fincher. S.l: s.n, 2010.
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